Since one of the two layering attempts turned out so well, and the parent tree was growing so strong, I decided to make another layer, and likely, I’ll just work my way down the trunk making a layer each year, until I hit soil.
Last year’s layer growing out for a year in the ground:
Next up, May 15:
By early July, I expected to see roots forming in the medium, but none were to be seen. I opened the bag and saw the zelkova had nearly completely bridged the girdle.
Using a knife, the cambium/callus tissue was removed back to the wood again:
And the rooting medium was reapplied…and the wait continues…
The top was cut back a little at the same time:
Then suddenly in August….
All bets are off. What happened? Maybe the callus bridging was keeping the top alive, or maybe the whole tree just dried out, because the whole thing was dead as a post. So much for the plan.
Good news is, the grandparent tree is still going strong. A new goal of mine is to continue comparing the design. Here is a shot from before and after winter pruning:
What popped first after the trunk-chop experiment were buds a little way down the trunk, rather disappointing, then a few began to emerge at the chop from the cambial layer…right where they were supposed to be:
So, I broke the lower shoots and bent them down to encourage the buds at the top. It worked, and, although I’d like to have a few more breaking at the cut, I suspect more will come in the spring.
Here is a shot from a few weeks later at separation:
Potting, end of September; enough time to establish roots and harden off before our first frost date in around 6 weeks:
And finally, a shot with the parent tree that supplied the cutting from which this air-layer developed…a grandfather-grandson shot:
I struck a meager Zelkova cutting in ’09 from a older bonsai on the bench. It was ignored, abused, even moved once or twice…finally it had enough and grew to 12 feet tall last year. This spring I cut it down to get it lower than the fence, and decided to air layer at the “Y”. I took many photos of the whole process, but now I have no clue where they are…so this isn’t a how-to post as much as a what-did post.
The cutting in ’13:
The layers (April, removed all bark/cambium/xylem/phloem, packed the area with sphagnum moss, and bagged it) in June:
Then, as an experiment in July, instead of removing the layer when the bag was full of roots, I trunk chopped them to see if I could hasten the growth of new branches to start some broom style trees.
Checking on the layers in early September, I discovered the left one had bridged and failed:
Better luck and a wider cut next year.
The right one was going strong, so I opened the bag and packed a little coarse soil around the moss to expand the room for roots to grow a few more weeks before separating at the end of the month:
Next week, we’ll finish up the project. Going through some old photos, I found this one of the parent tree, from ’02…about 4 years before it was cut down. This angle is approximately the present left.